Thursday, November 03, 2011

Baby Won't You Buy Me A Brand New Suit Like They Wore In '62

Following yesterday's seventy fifth anniversary of the beginnings of British TV, the TV Cream website has come up with a rather offbeat and intriguing Television's Seventy Five Memorable Moments. I'd've had a few different ones, admittedly (where's The Pistols and Bill Grundy, fr instance?) but what a jolly good effort, overall.
Two documentaries about cricket scooped prizes at the prestigious Grierson awards on the very day that the sport hit the headlines after three Pakistan players were found guilty of trying to spot-fix a Test match. The team behind BBC4's Storyville: Afghan Cricket Club – Out of the Ashes was judged best newcomer on Tuesday at the awards, which celebrate the best in documentary making. Another winner, in the best historical documentary category, was Fire in Babylon, the theatrically released film about the rise to global dominance in the 1970s and 1980s of the West Indies cricket team. The awards kicked off with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall winning the best documentary series prize for Channel 4 show Hugh's Fish Fight. Jury chairman Emma Hindley said the judges agreed Hugh's Fish Fight was 'a brilliant piece of campaigning journalism and, incredibly, managed to make fish interesting. With great passion, craft, values and genuine integrity, it achieved something few TV series do: real impact, both on politics – in the shape of an EU recommendation for a discard ban – and on the suppliers, with major supermarkets agreeing to change some of the fishing methods of their suppliers.' Between Life and Death, a BBC1 documentary about brain injuries that captured a moment when a paralysed man blinked to stop his life support machine being switch off, was given the award for best domestic documentary on a contemporary theme. The best international documentary on a contemporary theme went to BBC2's Secret Iraq – Insurgency. Almost forty years after it was shot, Tony Palmer's film about Leonard Cohen's 1972 tour of Europe, Bird on a Wire won the best arts documentary. The film only came to light last year and was screened on BBC4. Other winners included The Joy of Stats, which took home the best science documentary prize and Caring for Calum, which won the first best student film prize. Veteran film-maker John Pilger was given the Grierson trustees' award. The chairman of the Grierson Trust, Dawn Airey, said: 'John Pilger is one of the world's great documentary producers. His work has uncovered atrocity, probed the underbelly of society, sparked controversy and challenged the heart of democracy.' Pilger in his acceptance speech said: 'Documentaries that break the code of conforming and accepting official spin have become an endangered species.' The man who campaigned on behalf of forgotten thalidomide victims, brought the world's attention to the plight of Cambodians under Pol Pot in 1979 and was standing next to Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated, said too many young documentary makers are convinced they 'have to produce a form of reality television.' Pilger said that in the current economic and political climate: 'This is not acceptable. We need to be independent spirits more than ever before.' He added that he felt documentaries should not 'look away' and 'merely pacify' – otherwise, he asked, 'who will blow the whistle?' on corrupt governments and corporate propaganda. He added: 'we're not in the business of pleasing the powers that be. I suggest those words are inscribed on the bathroom mirrors of every young documentary-maker.' Separately, Channel Four announced it is increasing its contribution to the Britdoc Foundation by a third. The independent not-for-profit organisation born out of Channel Four's documentary department that funds independent films will be given an extra four hundred thousand smackers over three years by the broadcaster. Channel Four chief creative officer Jay Hunt said: 'For nearly seven years, Britdoc has been the catalyst for an incredibly impressive body of work. Britdoc nurtures new and emerging talent, its films win major awards and are seen worldwide at festivals and screenings. They are making great, strides in harnessing social media and enable films with a true social purpose to be told to as wide an audience as possible.'

So, here's the deal dear blog reader. Apparently some young chap who watched Qi XL last week though it would be a right ripping wheeze to send the BBC an 'official' complaint about Ross Noble's clear racist bias ... against Ewoks (at least, I'm assuming this was a joke - you can never quite tell these days). Imagine, therefore, this chap's surprise when he got a - probably automated - reply which didn't say 'Oh, for God's sake, grow up sonny!' Ah, sixth form humour, don'tcha just lurv it?
The divine Goddess of ginger, Karen Gillan has revealed that she will not make any further appearances in Doctor Who once she leaves the show - rumoured to be at some point during the next series. The actress, who has played Matt Smith's Doctor companion, Amy, for two series, believes that any potential cameo return would lessen the impact of her departure on the popular BBC family SF drama. She told The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012 published this week: 'Death would be an option. I don't want Amy to pop up again every so often, because for me it would take away from the big, emotional goodbye. Once she's gone, she's gone. I want people to remember the Amy Pond era as a good one.' Speaking to Graham Norton on Radio 2, the twenty three-year-old admitted that she is unsure of her future on the show. Gillan said: 'I don't really know what's going on, to be honest. The time is going to come when Amy and Rory (Arthur Darvill) have to leave. It's inevitable. I will welcome the new companion with open arms. But I don't know what kind of companion he'd have next.'
Friendless, isolated and sympathised with by precisely no-one, Mark Thompson has made a thoroughly piss-poor attempt to defend the cuts which he is proposing to BBC Local Radio but claimed that he would 'listen carefully' to responses to the proposals from listeners. One or two people even believed him an'all. Not this blogger, obviously, but some. Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists is to ballot its members on a vote of no confidence in Thompson over the BBC director general's cost cutting programme which will lead to nearly two thousand job cuts. In an unprecedented move for the one hundred and four year-old union, NUJ officials unanimously agreed to the ballot at a meeting on Wednesday, with general secretary Michelle Stanistreet arguing that Thompson was being singled out as the 'architect of this butchery. This shows the depth of anger felt by journalists across the BBC and their outrage at the lack of leadership from the top of the corporation. The BBC's future is under attack as a result of the freeze on the licence fee settlement driven through by the coalition government,' added Stanistreet. 'The director general should be fighting for the BBC, not inflicting cuts in areas that will cause irreparable damage to services and inevitably compromise quality journalism and programming,' she said. 'NUJ members are committed to defending jobs and quality journalism at the BBC and we are asking readers, listeners and viewers to join with us in this battle.' The NUJ and fellow broadcasting unions BECTU and UNITE are already balloting their members on industrial action over Thompson's Delivering Quality First cuts. This ballot closes on 24 November and a vote in favour of industrial action could see BBC programming disrupted by a twenty four-hour strike as early as the beginning of December. The NUJ said its members were facing up to eight hundred job cuts in BBC News, three hundred and eighty from local TV and radio in the English regions, up to about two hundred in network radio, and potentially more than three hundred in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But, hardly any at Radio 4 because most of the executive and the Trust like listening to that.

Never let it be said that pansy-wristed foppish dandy Jarvis Cocker isn't devoted to the BBC. 'The BBC is the nearest I have got to any form of religious faith,' said the former Pulp frontman, who now hosts a Sony award-winning show on digital station 6Music, at the Radio Festival. 'It's a benign presence, it's not trying to flog you anything and there for you to turn to should you need it.' Just don't camp out on its steps if you want to protest against capitalism. It's got enough issues on its plate. Anyway, back to Jarvis. 'You can't judge everything by figures and commercial activity. If everything is about flogging each other stuff life becomes pretty joyless. You have to accept it's not all about trying to flog stuff.' But what about James Murdoch? 'He's the other side. He's Satan.' You da man, Jervis. Tell it to the common people.

Hollywood actor Robert Vaughn has landed a role in Coronation Street, making him the first major US star to join the soap, a spokeswoman claims. The Oscar-nominated actor will play Milton, a wealthy American who meets Street regular Sylvia Goodwin (Stephanie Cole) on a cruise. Vaughn, seventy eight, is best known for playing Napoleon Solo in the spy series, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He has played con-man Albert Stroller in the BBC series Hustle since 2004. 'I am delighted to be welcoming The Man From U.N.C.L.E to Coronation Street,' said producer Phil Collinson. 'Robert was a huge part of my childhood and a magnificent actor. I am looking forward to seeing the impact this exotic character has on the ladies of Weatherfield.' Vaughn is set to appear on screen as Milton early next year. The actor was nominated for an Academy Award in 1960 for his role in The City Jungle. Other film credits include the western classic The Magnificent Seven, Bullitt and The Towering Inferno.

David Attenborough's Frozen Planet peaked with an audience of eight and a half million viewers on Wednesday evening, early overnight data has revealed. The documentary series exploring the polar regions averaged 7.93m in the 9pm slot for BBC1, an increase of over one million on last week's launch episode. Elsewhere on BBC1, The Impressions Show - about as funny as a nasty dose of genital mold at the best of times - clearly failed to amuse 3.71m at 8pm, while Ask Rhod Gilbert attracted 1.71m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Great British Food Revival was watched by 1.84m at 8pm, while Secret Pakistan had an audience of 1.04m between 9pm and 10pm. In further good news for Frozen PLanet last week's opening episode received an audience appreciation index so of ninety four which, as far as yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows is a record for a primetime BBC1 show. To sum up, then, lots of people are watching it and most of them seem to really like it.
Reporters were riveted this week by a rare publication: a counsel's opinion commissioned by News International of the kind normally kept strictly under legal wraps. Michael Silverleaf QC's view of the Scum of the World's phone-hacking scandal was so damning that a huge secret pay-off to a litigant followed in order to keep it covered up. 'To have this paraded at a public trial would, I imagine, be extremely damaging to [NI's] public reputation,' Silverleaf wrote in June 2008. 'There is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior journalists in the illegal inquiries. There is a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access.' This reprise of the tabloid's by now well-known iniquities may have overshadowed something far more significant: the continuing threat to James Murdoch, the likely successor to his father Rupert's empire. The records obtained by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee from NI's former solicitors, Farrer & Co, include e-mails, billing files and handwritten notes, which provide an extraordinary anatomy of the developing cover-up. Those records, on one interpretation, appear to depict James Murdoch at its very centre, despite his previous numerous denials of complicity. Julian Pike, the Farrer & Co lawyer handling the negotiations, testified that he believed Murdoch personally authorised up to five hundred thousand smackers as a pay-off to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, as - effectively - the price of his silence. When Murdoch testifies again before the committee next Thursday, his challenge will be to explain Pike's documents. The disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World's legal officer, Tom Crone, and former editor Colin Myler both also insisted to the committee that they had put James Murdoch in the picture on the crucial point – that a 'damning e-mail' showed the Scum of the World's public 'lone rogue reporter' defence - which they continued to stick to long after they knew it was wholly inaccurate - was simply untrue and phone-hacking was widespread. James Murdoch is equally insistent that he was never told of the ticking time bomb, the so-called 'for Neville' e-mail, and had no idea of the true state of affairs when he signed off on the secret settlement. The story the documents tell begins on 24 May 2008, when Crone sent a doleful memo to Myler, the recently appointed editor of the scum Sunday tabloid. It was a briefing document 'as the basis for [Myler's] chat with chief exec James Murdoch.' The memo described a 'devastating' e-mail 'from a News of the World reporter enclosing a large number of transcripts of voicemails [which are] fatal to our case. Our position is very perilous. The damning e-mail is genuine.' The journalist on the story 'now remembers the transcripts.' Their opponents also had lists of crimes such as '"turning round" car reg and mobile phone numbers (illegal)' by Scum of the World journalists. 'A number of those names are still with us and some of them have moved to prominent positions on Scum of the World and the Sun.' Crone had already offered one hundred and fifty thousand for Taylor to drop the case. It wasn't anywhere near enough. He had asked a senior QC for guidance but 'inevitably' there would have to be a further 'expensive' offer. Crone had reached the limit of his financial authority, according to subsequent testimony by Pike. Myler confirmed to Pike that his 'chat' with Murdoch had occurred three days later. Pike's jotted note begins: 'Spoke to James Murdoch – not any options – wait for silks view.' James Murdoch previously denied to the committee that he had had any such preliminary chat. Myler added an ambiguous phrase to Pike: 'James wld [sic] say get rid of them – cut out cancer.' This apparently referred to the Scum of the World executives investigations following earlier claims by the jailed royal reporter Clive Goodman that he had 'not acted alone.' The phrase could mean Murdoch specifically discussed the potentially widespread nature of the hacking with Myler. The QC's opinion was that a judge would regard the Scum of the World's widespread hacking as 'immoral and repugnant' and the publicity would be 'awful.' And, so it came to pass. Although whether it would have been as awful as the public outrage which followed the Milly Dowler revelations, whether a full and frank disclosure in 2008 would have led to the closure of the newspaper and the falling through of a multi-billion pound takeover deal at BSkyB is, entirely another matter. You can't change history, as the Doctor told Barbara Wright in The Aztecs. Not one line. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Ask those involved in Watergate. Silverleaf recommended offering two hundred and fifty thousand quid, saying it was 'extremely unlikely' Taylor would get more at a trial. But on the same day, 3 June, News International offered far more: Three hundred and fifty thousand smackers, plus an extra payment in return for confidentiality. Taylor's lawyer still held out, talking of 'seven figures not to open his mouth.' James Murdoch became involved for a second time. He met Crone and Myler at Wapping on 10 June. Murdoch claims the 'for Neville' e-mail was not mentioned and he was unaware of wider wrongdoing. He also claims: 'Prior to the meeting of 10 June I do not recall being given any briefing.' Crone reported back to Pike that 'JM said he wanted to think through options.' Myler was 'moving towards telling Taylor to fuck off.' Myler appeared to note another worrying possibility: 'Do a deal with them – paying them off plus then silence fails.' Ah, but moving back to Doctor Who for a moment, as we now know, silence falls when the question is asked. Pike says that he believes Murdoch authorised payment up to half-a-million wonga at this meeting. In fact, the offer was upped to four hundred and twenty five thousand snots plus lavish legal fees of over two hundred grand. Taylor took the money. Can't blame him, really. And, in some ways we should all be glad he did because, if he hadn't, as speculated earlier it's possible that all of this might have come out in a trial and would have been flavour if the week for a while and then forgotten about. And the Scum of the World would still be free to ruin people lives. So, well done Gordon, you're a hero to all of us. And, very rich as well.

The BBC has made a rare on-air apology to a Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP and chairman of the Treasury select committee, for giving a 'misleading impression' that he had been silenced by Downing Street. The corporation apologised for news footage which appeared to suggest Tyrie had been 'nobbled' by Steve Hilton, one of David Cameron's most senior advisers, after he criticised George Osborne on the eve of the Tory party conference in October. Hilton is seen in the footage putting a 'no doubt friendly arm' around Tyrie and apparently leading him off for a private chat before he was due to be interviewed on the BBC. The BBC News channel made an on-air apology to the backbencher shortly after 5pm on Tuesday. Huw Edwards, the presenter, said: 'Last month we broadcast some reports from the Conservative party conference which fell below our usual standards. Our reports gave a misleading impression that Andrew Tyrie MP had been influenced by a Downing Street official to say something he did not believe to be true. We have apologised to Mr Tyrie for our broadcasts.' Tyrie later said he was 'extremely grateful' to the BBC and fully accepted the apology. The BBC footage came after Tyrie suggested before Osborne's conference speech that the government's economic strategy was 'not a coherent and credible plan.' Tyrie later appeared to have a change of heart on the economy, and said after the chancellor's speech that he was 'greatly encouraged' by the government's strategy. The BBC report, by political editor Nick Robinson and deputy political editor James Landale, suggested that Tyrie had been 'leant on' by Downing Street, which the corporation now accepts was 'misleading.' The video footage was removed from the BBC website on Tuesday afternoon. Gavin Allen, editor of BBC political news, made a separate apology on the BBC Editors' blog on Tuesday. 'We regret that mistakes took place and that the footage was not shown across the BBC in its proper context,' he said. 'There was never any intention to deceive our audience but we now accept that the impression created by the coverage taken as a whole was misleading. As a result we have decided to take the unusual step of apologising on air. We are glad that Mr Tyrie, for his part, accepts our apology. Our journalistic reputation is built on trust and on this occasion, we got it wrong and we have apologised for that.'

And now, dear blog reader, because I like the cut of yer jib, here's something a little bit special. Photographic evidence that during a recent episode of Sky Sports One's popular Saturday evening football coverage, a hamster ran up Sarah Jane Mee's leg.

Some thoroughly splendid news for our Antipodean dear blog readers now, ITV and Simon Cowell's Syco TV have failed to sell million-pound crap roulette format Red or Black? in Australia – one of the key territories where they were attempting to get it off the ground. The big-budget flop game show has been rejected by all of Australia’s major networks, including ABC, Channel Nine, Network Ten and Seven Network, which broadcasts versions of other Syco formats The X Factor and Australia's Got More Talent Than Britain. However, ITV Studios Global Entertainment , which is distributing Red or Black?, is understood to be in negotiations with 'a major US' network over the format and there is also interest in Europe. Sorry, America, but don't say we didn't warn you. FOX Network is currently showing the inaugural series of The X Factor USA, while ITV has enjoyed recent success with NBC, which adapted Lynda La Plante's crime drama Prime Suspect. Albeit, not very well. Representatives from Australian networks were among the international acquisition executives personally hosted by Cowell and ITVS managing director Kevin Lygo during the week the show was on air in the UK. But a number of 'senior sources' said that Red or Black?'s icy critical reception - and plunging ratings figures - in the UK resulted in 'lukewarm interest' at Mipcom last month. An ITV spokeswoman said: 'We're in discussions with broadcasters in major territories over Red or Black?' In discussions, in the case of Australia being, it would seem, 'do you want it?' 'Nah, mate, not really.' It is understood that during negotiations, ITVS GE has emphasised that Red or Black? fared better than some of the early instalments of Cowell's other entertainment giants, Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor. What they didn't add was that it fared far worse than just about everybody in the industry, ITV themselves, media analyst and, most of all, the advertisers and been confidently expecting. It flopped. Big style. The luck-based game show, which gives contestants the chance to win one million notes by guessing red or black in a series of large-scale challenges, averaged a consolidated audience of 5.2 million over the seven nights it was broadcast on ITV and ITV HD. Which doesn't sound too bad until you take into consideration that this was roughly half of what ITV had been expecting. ITV is gearing up to recommission the show, but chief executive Adam Crozier has publicly indicated that the format will need to be changed. Reducing the scale of the show and scheduling it differently are being considered.

Ex-Strictly Come Dancing contestant Nancy Dell'Olio is allegedly planning to take legal action against Alesha Dixon over comments made about her on the show. The Italian entrepreneur, who became the fourth person to leave the contest this weekend, was described by judge Dixon as 'a walking disaster' and 'not very feminine' following her final performance with partner Anton du Beke. During an appearance on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, Dell'Olio seemingly joked that she would sue over Dixon's 'vulgar' and 'unnecessary' comments, but that bastion of truth and honest reportage the Daily Scum Mail reports that the fifty-year-old actually is 'talking to lawyers' in an attempt to get an apology. 'Nancy was really hurt by Alesha's comments,' an alleged source allegedly said. 'The way she looks is, of course, a massive part of her personality. She doesn't mind her dancing being criticised, but she took Alesha's remarks as a massive slap in the face. She felt it was really nasty to be trashed in front of millions of viewers and she wants an apology - and she's talking to lawyers to find out the best way to get one.' The 'insider' further allegedly claimed that du Beke was 'also appalled' by Dixon's comments on Saturday's show. A spokesperson for Dell'Olio confirmed: 'Nancy is now looking at her options as to how to get an apology from Alesha and the BBC.' And, of course, the Scum Mail - with their thoroughly sick and venal anti-BBC agenda smeared on an inch thick for all the world to see - then managed to fold the 'viewers whinge about Robbie Savage holding the ball' story and the statement 'Many viewers have also complained about the plunging necklines and exposed flesh shown by contestants including ONE Show presenter Alex Jones, thirty four, and Waterloo Road actress Chelsee Healey, twenty three' into the same story. The latter, incidentally, being something for which they provide absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Because, of course, they're the Daily Scum Mail - a horrible bigoted ball of hatred and lies - and if they told me black was darker than white I'd want a second opinion, frankly. One wonders if this ridiculous non-story is something which is going to be cropping up in the Scum Mail's 'corrections' column at some stage in the future. It's certainly bollocks. Although, to be fair, if every story which appeared in the Scum Mail that turns out to be bollocks appeared in their corrections column, that'd be longer than the paper itself.

Charisma Carpenter has won a recurring role on The Lying Game. The ABC Family drama stars Alexandra Chando as separated-at-birth twins Sutton and Emma, who secretly swap identities. Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Carpenter will play Rebecca Sewell, the estranged sister of Phyllis Chamberlain (Sydney Barrosse) and aunt of Char (Kirsten Prout), according to TV Guide. The character shares a connection with Alec Rybak (Adrian Pasdar) and Ted Mercer (Andy Buckley) and will 'stir up old secrets when she returns to town.' Carpenter is best known for her role as Cordelia in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its subsequent spin-off series Angel. Her more recent recent credits include the 2010 action film The Expendables, a guest stint on Supernatural and roles in Charmed and CSI. She will debut on The Lying Game in the show's midseason premiere, expected to be broadcast in early January.

The BBC's female newscasters are lining-up for a Strictly Come Dancing challenge as part of Children in Need night, it has been announced. Well-known faceache, pussycat haunter (and drag) Emily Maitlis, Sophie Raworth, Susanna Reid and Sian Williams will face the ballroom show's male judges as part of the annual charity fundraiser. The Apprentice's Lord Sugar-Sweetie will enter The Dragons' Den, while Westlife and JLS will be among the musical acts. Well, if you really stretch the definition of 'musical' I suppose. Hang on, I thought Westlife had split up? Reeves and Mortimer, meanwhile, have filmed several sketches for the telethon and Russell Howard will bring more laughs with a special edition of his Good News programme. Doctor Who fans can also expect a teaser of the upcoming Christmas special during the 18 November show. This year's show will take place on Friday 18 November. Other performances planned for the night include the cast of EastEnders performing the hits of Queen (so, that'll definitely be worth avoiding), and a new version of the 'Mah Na Mah Na' song, originally made famous by The Muppets. Famous faces including Harry Hill and Davina McCall will lend their vocal talents to the performance. Sir Terry Wogan, Fearne Cotton, Alesha Dixon and Tess Daly will act as hosts for the show.

The title of the twenty third James Bond film has been confirmed as Skyfall. The latest 007 adventure will star Daniel Craig for the third time. Leading ladies have been confirmed as French actress Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. Skyfall is being directed by Sam Mendes, who won an Oscar for 1999's American Beauty. Mendes said the storyline will take the secret agent to London, China, Turkey and Scotland. It will see Bond's loyalty tested to M, his superior, while espionage headquarters MI6 faces an attack. The movie, which sees the return of Dame Judi Dench as M, will also star Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Javier Bardem as the villain of the piece. It will be released in the UK on 26 October 2012. Craig told reporters in London that the cast would start filming sequences for the new movie later on Thursday. Much speculation about the new film has focused on what Mendes will bring to the franchise, with some suggesting he will tone down - or even abandon altogether - the action sequences. But the director denied that this was the case. He told reporters in London that the 'fantastic script' had 'all the elements of a classic Bond movie, including - to quell any rumours - lots of action.' When asked what fans could expect from the latest film, he added: 'The movie will reveal everything, and there's lots of surprises.' Producer Barbara Broccoli said no-one had yet been chosen to write and perform the Bond theme tune. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bond movie, 1962's Dr No. James Bond is one of the longest-running franchises in film history, but Bond Twenty Three will mark the end of a four year gap. The last 007 outing was in 2008's Quantum of Solace, directed by Marc Forster. Work on the new film was suspended in April 2010 because of uncertainty over the company's future. The franchise had been on hold amid financial troubles, with MGM filing for bankruptcy protection last November. A rescue deal and restructuring plan put US firm Spyglass Entertainment at the helm of MGM, which had struggled due to several box office flops and a worldwide slum in DVD sales. Craig - who made his Bond debut in the acclaimed Casino Royale in 2006 - is the sixth actor to play the British secret agent in the official Bond series. Casino Royale, was the most successful instalment in the franchise's forty nine-year history, making five hundred and ninety four million dollars (almost four hundred million quid) worldwide.

The BBC's portfolio of sports rights continues to be whittled away, with pay-TV broadcaster ESPN stepping in to jointly air the 2012 World Professional Darts Championships in January. Not that darts is an actual sports, of course. ESPN has reached an agreement with BDO, the sport's governing body, and BBC Sport to split coverage, with former BBC presenter Ray Stubbs lined-up to anchor its output. The sports broadcaster has secured the live and exclusive rights to the evening darts sessions of the tournament running from 9 to 13 January. ESPN, which broadcast its first live darts last month with the 2011 Winmau World Masters, will also air one semi-final exclusively and highlights of the final, which take place on 14 and 15 January respectively. The BBC will hold on to live and exclusive coverage of afternoon sessions on the opening weekend – 7 and 8 January – and run extended afternoon highlights on the four days following that, as well as a late-night highlights show on BBC2. Come finals weekend the BBC, which uses the thoroughly annoying presenter Colin Murray and former darts player Bobby George, will broadcast one semi-final and the final exclusively. Commentary for both broadcasters will come from David Croft and Tony Green. ESPN has also struck its first deals to air live golf and tennis programming in a bid to move into weekday daytime sports and build its sport portfolio beyond predominantly football and rugby. The US broadcaster will show eight days of live coverage from the Australian PGA Championship and the Emirates Australian Open, both of which are held later this month. ESPN will also broadcast the BNP Paribas Showdown next March, live from Madison Square Garden in New York, which is due to feature players including Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer. Last week ITV snatched the rights to the French Open tennis tournament, as the BBC looks to reduce what it spends on sport as part of the Delivering Quality Not At All cost-cutting initiative. Earlier this year the BBC struck a - genuinely innovative - deal with BSkyB to jointly broadcast Formula One until 2018, a move which upset a few mouthy petrolheads but, effectively saved them enough money to keep BBC4 open. The corporation last week reached a deal to keep exclusive rights to Wimbledon until 2017.

BSkyB has succeeded in getting a Virgin Media direct mail campaign banned for tricking consumers into thinking it was an official offer of a TV upgrade from its pay-TV rival – but lost a bid to stop Virgin being able to claim it offered a 'better TV experience.' The satellite broadcaster lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority over a campaign from Virgin Media that arrived in an official-looking jiffy bag promising a 'satellite TV upgrade pack' to households. Virgin Media's jiffy bags, which aimed to get consumers to change to its cable service, gave the appearance of being an official communication from Sky. BSkyB claimed it broke the advertising code and misled consumers because Virgin Media had not made it clear that the jiffy bags were a marketing ploy. The satellite operator also complained that a statement made in text in the advertising that switching away from Sky meant an end to 'frozen pictures caused by bad weather' was misleading and could not be proved. The ASA backed BSkyB over the jiffy bag campaign, saying that it misled consumers into thinking that it was an official upgrade of the satellite broadcaster's TV package. The regulator banned the advert for breaching rules about misleading advertising and 'recognition of marketing communications.' However, BSkyB's victory was short-lived as the ASA rejected the company's attempt to get Virgin's claim that it has, at times, inferior picture quality banned. Virgin Media said in its defence that BSkyB has previously admitted that its satellite signal, and therefore picture quality, can be compromised by bad weather 'such as large snowfall or heavy rain.' Virgin's underground cable service is unaffected by weather changes, hence the company's claim to a 'better TV experience.' The ASA said that the claim in Virgin Media's advertising clearly referred to a comparison on a potential 'freezing' of the Sky picture when weather is poor, rather than general picture quality. 'We understood that it was the case that satellite signals, and therefore picture quality, could be affected by bad weather, whereas cable TV would not be affected in that way, and we considered it was not misleading for Virgin to refer to that in their advertising,' said the ASA. 'We also considered that consumers were likely to regard a TV service which was not affected by bad weather to be providing a "better TV experience" than one that was. We concluded the claims were not misleading in that regard.'

Hollyoaks' sponsorship deal with camera manufacturer Nikon has been renewed for another year. Nikon has sponsored the Channel Four soap since January and the new deal will see its branding accompany the programme's broadcasts for the whole of 2012, Marketing Magazine reports. The latest contract also sees Nikon extending its relationship with Hollyoaks by launching a competition which gives customers a chance to win a walk-on part on the show when they buy a Coolpix S3100 camera. The competition is expected to be promoted on screen and with a variety of activity at Asda supermarkets nationwide. Nikon UK's group marketing manager Jeremy Gilbert said of the deal: 'We are delighted to further build on Nikon's relationship with Hollyoaks with the continued sponsorship of the programme and the launch of the competition with Asda. Nikon's stronger association with the hugely popular teen drama is further helping to change the perception of the Nikon brand, and attract a younger audience.'

Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt has been jailed for thirty months for his part in the conspiracy to bowl deliberate no-balls in last year's Test match against England. Former world number two Test bowler Mohammad Asif was jailed for one year and bowler Mohammad Amir has been sentenced to six months. Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed was jailed for two years and eight months. The judge told all the players they would be released on licence half way through their sentences if they behaved. The quartet were then whisked off to pokey where, tomorrow morning they will be introduced to one of the great joys of the British prison system, 'slopping out.' The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, said cricket matches would forever be tainted by the scandal and told them that they ought to be effing ashamed of themselves and their naughty ways. In his sentencing remarks, which have been published online, he told the defendants: '"It's not cricket" was an adage. It is the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it that make the offences so serious. The image and integrity of what was once a game but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded you as as heroes and would have given their eye teeth to play at the levels and with the skills that you had.' The BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew tweeted: 'Let's hope this is the necessary deterrent to restore the integrity of cricket. Tempted? Think again. Caught equals prison.' That's never tended to stop bank robbers in the past, Aggers, it should be noted. In February all three players were banned for five years by the International Cricket Council. All three were appealing against their suspensions, although whether they will continue to do so from a cell in Wandsworth is, at this time, unclear. But former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan believes they should have been given lifetime bans. The three players have all been ordered to pay compensation towards prosecution costs. Butt, twenty seven, was ordered to pay over thirty grand, Amir nine thousand smackers and Asif eight grand. The men were arrested after the fourth Test between Pakistan and England in August 2010 at Lord's. An undercover Scum of the World reporter posing as a wealthy (and, one presumes corrupt) businessman, paid Majeed one hundred and fifty smackers for details of the precise timing of three no-balls, which the players were persuaded to bowl, which were extremely valuable on the spot-fixing betting market. Majeed claimed to have paid Asif sixty five thousand wonga, Butt ten grand and Amir two and a half thousand notes. The trial heard that the cheating would never have been exposed without the investigative journalism of the Scum of the World. The judge said: 'Whenever people look back on a surprising event in a game or a surprising result, or whenever in the future there are surprising events or results, followers of the game who have paid good money to watch it live or watch it on television will be left to wonder whether there has been fixing and whether what they have been watching is a genuine contest between bat and ball.' The jailing of the players will come as a huge shock in Pakistan, where cricketers are superstars. Butt, Asif and Majeed are thought to have been sent to Wandsworth prison in south London while Amir will serve his sentence at Feltham young offenders' institution in west London. Amir's barrister, Henry Blaxland QC, said he would be seeking bail pending an appeal against his client's sentence. Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said: 'I feel very sad today not only for the players but for Pakistan and its cricket. But the fact is that when these players see corrupt people flourishing in our society they think they can get away with anything. It is a shameful day for Pakistan cricket today. I feel very bad for Amir in particular because he still very young. I think he saw others doing it and thought he could get away with it as well.' However, his sympathetic view was not shared by another former Pakistan captain, Rashid Latif, who told Reuters: 'They deserved this punishment, they had it coming. But now the Pakistan government and Pakistan cricket board should also take action against them. These convictions will hopefully serve as a deterrent to others in future because cricket should not be allowed to be corrupted by anyone.' Mohammad Amir's mother Nasim Akhtar told AFP: 'My son is innocent and he did the no ball at the asking of the captain. I spoke to him two days ago and he asked me to pray for his acquittal.' Well, that didn't work, then. In a very good piece for the Torygraph, however, Paul Kelso puts his finger on something that's bothered yer actual Keith Telly Topping from the very start of this case. 'Any hope that the final act of the spot-fixing trial might restore a shred of dignity to cricket’s battered reputation lasted little longer than it took Mazhar Majeed’s barrister to clear his throat in Court Four at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday,' he notes in an article called Pakistan spot-fixing scandal: Sorry appears to be hardest word for everyone but Mohammad Amir. 'There was certainly plenty of regret from Majeed, even a bit of it for the game "he cares passionately about," but it was largely for himself, what he had lost and what his family, a diabetic wife and three children, the youngest three months old, stood to lose from his inevitable incarceration.' Or, as Paul Newman put it in the Daily Scum Mail Pakistani cricket cheats bickered and sobbed. But what we witnessed in Court Four was more lies and greed.

Two Iranian footballers have been suspended from the game indefinitely after celebrating a goal with an impromptu bum squeeze. Persepolis defender Mohammed Nosrati sparked controversy by grabbing teammate Sheis Rezaei's behind during a televised match. Though, as this graphic picture demonstrates, it could've been far worse. In addition to their suspension, Nosrati and Rezaei have been fined nearly twenty five thousand smackers each for what the Iranian football federation described as 'immoral acts.' Both players have claimed that they never intended to cause any offence. Homosexuality is, of course, thoroughly illegal in the Islamic republic. Homophobia, of course, isn't. Speaking on state TV, cleric and MP Jalal Yahyazadeh said that the pair's 'shameless act' had 'upset, angered and outraged' millions. 'What happened is absolutely not acceptable because it was a very ugly thing,' he added.

Channel Four is to axe its annual Food Fight season which unites Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to tackle an issue relating to the nation's eating habits. The season has become a staple of Channel Four's new year schedule since being launched in 2008 to fill the void left by the departure of Celebrity Big Brother. However, after three years of campaigns to change the nation's attitude to food and improve animal welfare, encompassing chicken, fish and pigs, most of which failed to find much sympathy with the general public outside of a few trendy middle-class homes in Islington and Hampstead, Channel Four is calling time on them. Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel Four, said the 'mantle' of championing issues of ethics, welfare and health would be taken on in a new show fronted by Jimmy Doherty. Which, hopefully, we'll be seeing a damned sight less of the odious full-of-his-own-importance Oliver on our screens, for one.

Tonight, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be rolling back the clock to the days when he used to look like this (yes, that is eyeliner, I'm afraid!) for yer actual Scunny Steve Drayton's latest The Record Player event at the Tyneside. Which, this very night does celebrate Mr Pete Townshend out of The Who Group's maddest, moddest, most four-way fucked-up (m)ock-opera yet, Quadrophenia. Modernists! Pack yer parka's with pride and make sure your mobility scooter has its mirrors clean. Be there or be squaresville, like a Rocker at Margate in '64. Tragically, the door open at 7:00. Five fifteen, admittedly, would've been so much cooler!

From that, dear blog reader, to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's one of the most ironic songs ever written. The UK Subs wittering on about wanting to 'be teenage' when singer Charlie Harper (born in 1944) was, already, well into his thirties. On yer actual Top of the Pops an'all. Talk about growing old disgracefully!

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